This community-based COVID-19 testing site located at 102 West Water Street in Waukegan, along with nine other testing sites across the state, is shutting down as demand drops, state officials said. | Provided Photo

After over 1.5 million COVID-19 tests at ten community-based testing sites in Illinois, officials are shutting them down as demand sharply drops.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced on Friday that operations at all ten community-based COVID-19 testing sites will end on March 31.

The drive-thru sites were established in April 2020.

Testing and vaccinations have been offered at sites in Aurora, Arlington Heights, South Holland, Fairview Heights and Peoria, with only testing offered at sites in Bloomington, Champaign, Harwood Heights, Rockford and Waukegan.

State health officials have seen a sharp decrease in traffic at the sites in recent weeks.

The sites are now handling less than 1% of the tests being conducted statewide, IDPH said.

“The number of daily tests conducted at these sites is on track to be the lowest on record with each site seeing fewer than 50 individuals per day,” IDPH said.

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The decrease in demand comes after Governor J.B. Pritzker’s indoor mask requirement ended on February 28.

Over 1.5 million tests and almost 8,800 vaccination doses have been conducted at the sites.

Demand reached a peak of more than 1,040 tests per day at each site in November 2020, IDPH said.

Officials say there are more convenient ways to get tested, like ordering free COVID-19 test kits and visiting SHIELD saliva testing sites throughout the state.

The state is preparing to respond to a potential surge in cases by stocking up on tests.

“There are more than 1.5 million rapid tests on hand, with a half a million more on the way in the coming weeks,” IDPH said.

State officials have also instructed hospitals, schools and local health departments to consider their current testing capacity and take necessary preparations.

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Officials are working with pharmacies and healthcare providers about increasing their inventory of FDA-approved COVID-19 treatments in case of another surge.

Cases have been decreasing since they peaked in January, with a 1.6% 7-day rolling average test positivity rate as of Friday, state data shows.